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Message from Chair – Friday 19 May
This morning the Premier announced a significant reform to the way that fire services are delivered in Victoria.
I appreciate that some big changes have been flagged and this comes after a protracted period of uncertainty.
Let me state that we are proud of our career firefighters and volunteers.
This reform will allow us greater certainty and the ability to get on with the important work the Country Fire Authority does in our communities.
I am confident that the reforms represent a fundamental strengthening of the volunteers’ role within CFA.
A key component of these reforms includes new laws to give all firefighters equal access to compensation for cancers contracted while in the line of duty.
This means all firefighters will have greater certainty in being able to access compensation benefits for specified cancers.
These reforms will also do a number of other very important things, including the provision of a $100 million package, which comprises:
- Establishing a $56.2 million CFA Support Fund to strengthen volunteer recruitment, retention and training options, expand brigade support and develop leadership; and
- Creating the Emergency Services Infrastructure Authority, which will co-ordinate and deliver new facilities including a new $44 million CFA station program.
The reforms will also establish a new organisation called Fire Rescue Victoria (FRV) to service metropolitan Melbourne and our major regional centres.
FRV will bring together MFB and CFA career firefighters from the 35 integrated stations to service the areas currently covered by integrated stations.
FRV will now employ highly trained, dedicated and skilled CFA career firefighters.
I want to acknowledge the critical role these men and women have played in the CFA.
Volunteers currently stationed within the integrated brigades will have a number of choices. They can continue to volunteer at those locations, or alternatively will be supported to volunteer with a nearby CFA brigade. In addition, support will be provided to existing volunteers who want to pursue a path to become a career firefighter.
There will be no job losses or redundancies for career firefighters and staff who will either remain with us or transition into one of the new organisations to continue their job of keeping Victorians safe.
It’s important to reiterate the current role of volunteer brigades remains in place and this package will protect the important surge capacity provided by volunteers.
In the coming weeks we will engage extensively with volunteers, career firefighters and staff about the proposal.
Let me make it clear, volunteers are important to our firefighting capacity in Victoria and ensuring the safety of all Victorians.
CFA is much more than a firefighting and emergency service; it is the heart and soul of communities throughout Victoria.
These reforms recognise this and give CFA support to better serve Victoria.
There will understandably be anxiety initially, but once the detail is worked through, I am confident that you will recognise that this is an opportunity for CFA to grow as a community-based volunteer organisation.
If you have any questions or would like further information you can contact our dedicated information line for CFA staff and volunteers by calling 1300 339 558.
CFA also has a range of support services and resources available including:
- Peer Support Program - trained members offering support & guidance – contact your local Peer Coordinator
- Member Assistance Program – a 24-hour confidential and external counselling service – 1300 795 711
Finally, please know that the Board and leadership of CFA will continue to advocate for the best interests of our organisation and will ensure there is no disruption to operational capability as these changes are implemented.
Greg Smith AM